Many renters in Houston are at the risk of getting evicted because of the federal moratorium that expired last weekend. The program, which pays overdue rent back to the beginning of COVID-19 and two months forward, was not extended as the lawmakers failed to extend the temporary ban.
More than 2,000 Houston-Harris County households lost their protection as the CDC eviction moratorium expired this weekend. These renters now struggling to get help. It is unclear how many renters are affected. According to a recent Census Bureau survey, most Black and Hispanic tenants have reported that they are struggling to pay their rent payments.
The moratorium was initiated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a statement issued in June, the CDC was clear that its most recent extension of the federal moratorium would be its last, putting pressure on states — which have been given hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency rental assistance from the federal government — to get the money to those it was intended to help.
It is unclear what Texas will do about this, but the local government of Harris County already created a program called Harris County Recovery Assistance. The program offers $1,500 for applicants to use for expenses like housing, car payment, medical bills, utilities, groceries, and the like. The application’s deadline is August 11, and the recipients will be chosen randomly and not on a first-come, first-served basis.
Texas also has the Texas Eviction Diversion Program. This program is a partnership among the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Texas Supreme Court, and Texas Office of Court Administration.
The program allows eviction proceedings to be delayed up to two months or 60 days. This will only be permitted if both the landlord and the tenant agree to participate. During that time, the tenant is given a chance to come up with the money necessary to pay the landlord. If they do that, the case will be removed from public records.
The state also has the Texas Rent Relief Program. Tenants can apply for up to 15 months of rental and utility assistance. However, to qualify, a tenant must have a household income below 80 percent of the median income in their area or have received funds from government public assistance programs. If they did not receive financial assistance, they could also tell the program’s organizers that they could move to an unsafe or unhealthy environment if they are not assisted. They should also attest to the fact that they are at risk of losing housing.